Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia affecting 747,000 Canadians. Memory loss is not a natural part of aging however, as you age, your brain will begin to shrink in size similar to how your muscles shrink if they are not challenged with physical activity. To reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and to keep your brain healthy, it is important to exercise your brain. The more proactive you are, the healthier your brain will be as you age. Here are some activities that can bring vitality to your brain cells and possibly slow the progression of dementia.

Aerobic Exercise

Physical exercise has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, diabetes risk and to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been shown in scientific studies to increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Aerobic exercise, increases blood flow and improves your brain’s vascular health. I recommend a combination of strength training with aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes every other day to achieve this benefit. However, be sure to check in with your doctor to get a health check before starting any new physical activity.


Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that focusses on bringing a moment to moment awareness to your thoughts and surroundings. Similar to aerobic exercise, meditating for as little as 15 minutes daily may also increase the size of the hippocampus, slowing down the progression of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. It is remarkable that an activity requiring minimal physical exertion can change the physical structure of your brain. There are books, apps and local in-person programs available to help you get started with mindfulness techniques. Research the types of introductory programs available in your region. In our fast-paced, stress-laden society, regular meditation may prove to benefit your overall health in a profound way.


Reading is an active process which works to deposit new words and ideas into your brain. Reading regularly, expands your vocabulary which in turn can slow cognitive decline. Contrast a passive activity such as watching television which is probably one of the worst pastimes for brain health. Your brain wants to be active and needs to be challenged in order to maintain its health. When was the last time you picked up a good novel or checked out your local library or book store?


Sudoku and crosswords also represent the types of mental exercises that help to keep your brain sharp. In a review study that examined physical activity, supplements and mental activity for boosting brain health, puzzles and mental games such as Sudoku came out on top as one of the best ways to improve memory. Puzzles are easy to access. Check online, your local newspaper or find a book at your local book store to keep your brain busy.

Learn Something New

Challenge your brain with a novel activity or do something in your regular routine, differently. Try driving home using another route or brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. Consider learning a new physical activity such as line dancing or yoga; a new instrument such as piano or a new language such as sign language, or French. Human interaction is also important to maintain with age and it often goes hand in hand with learning a new activity, especially if it’s in a group setting. Embracing a new activity may help get you out of your comfort zone and expand your social circle.

There are currently very few pharmaceutical based treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease. However, it has been proven time and time again that lifestyle approaches such as physical exercise, brain activity and a well-balanced diet may help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay. Get started with some of these simple suggestions; the time is now.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -